ANWR: A First-Hand Account

By December 20, 2005Energy

As you know, we often say we have the smartest damned blog readers on the planet, and we were reminded of that again last week, and of the power of the blogs to cut through the noise created by the cognoscenti and deliver the real facts. While we in the lower 48 argue mightily over opening a tiny part of ANWR to exploration, in came a comment from a Mr. Herrera, who (God forbid) actually knows something about ANWR and Alaska. As usual, we wished we could have made the case as well and as passionately as he does. And so we just stand back and let our readers speak:

My job is currently to know and understand ANWR and help pass ANWR legislation in Congress and I have had in my office in the last month the President of the Arctic Slope Regional Corporation (which represents all Inupiat Natives of Alaska’s North Slope), the State Senator representing the North Slope of Alaska, the elder leaders of both the Inupiats of Kaktovik (ANWR’s only residents) and Point Barrow, Alaska [the highest-latitude community in the US] as well as dozens of native representatives from all over Alaska who are here solely to try and convince Congress that opening the 10-02 area of ANWR is the best idea for the Native people of Alaska as well as Alaskans and Americans as a whole. Over 75% of Alaskans support opening 10-02 including the Governor and our 3 delegates to Congress.

The Alaska State Legislature, the voice of the people of Alaska has, for over 20 years, passed yearly resolutions and appropriated millions of dollars to open ANWR. It is Alaska’s land and we have benefited hugely from oil development at Prudhoe Bay. Fire stations, clinics, meeting halls, jobs, a sustainable tax base, running water — all these things were brought about to the people of the Arctic directly from taxes on oil revenues at Prudhoe Bay and solid jobs many natives hold working in the oil industry. The native population of Alaska is overwhelmingly supportive of this issue. Proof? The Alaska Federation of Natives (Alaskan Native’s Governing Body representing all native peoples of Alaska) continued democratic passage of resolutions stating yearly support for ANWR. That’s the voice and leadership of all Alaskan Natives making that statement.

The law on ANWR states no more the 2000 acres can be used for surface development within the 10-02 Area. Thats .04% of the total ANWR area. Thats less than 1/2 of 1 percent.

Others ignorantly claim the area in question is “refuge” and “wilderness”. [This is] wrong. The 10-02 Area is designated neither “refuge” nor “wilderness”. The southern and central areas of ANWR are labeled such and are permanently off limits to development. The 10-02 Area is defined as an “area set aside for oil and gas exploration” as defined in the ANILCA bill. That’s not refuge. Thats not wilderness. The fact that the 10-02 resides within the ANWR borders means zero as ANWR is specifically divided and defined by the bill that created it by zone and each zone has a legal definition of use and purpose.

The Gwichin Indians who live 160 miles from 10-02 leased all their native lands 3 times for oil exploration. Not only that, the Gwichin themselves own and operate oil production contract companies that leach off the oil fields they condemn. “

Please contact your Senators and tell them to make this happen. Vote is expected today or tomorrow.